September 8, 2010
Furuno supplied Navy and USCG with Chinese equipment, whistleblower gets reward
The U.S. Department of Justice and Furuno U.S.A. Inc., of Camas, Washington, reached a settlement August 27 in a "qui tam" lawsuit, over the purchase of electronic navigation equipment by the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Navy, and the General Services Administration.
Under the terms of the settlement, Furuno U.S.A. will pay $695,063 to the United States. Of that amount, $159,864 will be paid to the private party who first alerted the United States to the fact that the devices purchased had been manufactured in China.
Under the Trade Agreements Act the navigation equipment at issue should not have been manufactured in China.
In 2007, a qui tam lawsuit alleged that Furuno U.S.A. provided electronic equipment to the U.S. government in violation of the Trade Agreements Act.
The qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act, allow private citizens to file lawsuits on behalf of the United States alleging fraud against the government in connection with the government's procurement activities and/or the operation of government programs.
In this case, the government investigation established that even after Furuno had been notified by the government that the equipment could not be manufactured in China, Furuno continued to supply equipment from its newly opened Chinese factory.
Under the terms of the settlement, Furuno admits no wrongdoing.
In addition to the settlement, Furuno will pay $95,000 in attorney fees and costs for the private party who filed the case.
The Affirmative Civil Enforcement (ACE) Unit of the U.S. Attorneys Office reviews all qui tam filings and intervenes in those actions determined to have merit and where the government's loss is not insubstantial. The unit works aggressively to combat fraud against the U.S. government. Over the last three years, the Western District of Washington ACE Unit has recovered more than $18.3 million for taxpayers.
Principal investigative support was provided by the General Services Administration Office of Inspector General (GSA-OIG), the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), and the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General (DHS-OIG).
Assistant United States Attorney Peter Winn litigated the matter for the United States Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington.